2007-06-10: Den of Awkward Moments


Jack_icon.gif Mara_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif Randall_icon.gif Trina_icon.gif

Summary: People drink. At a bar. (I'll probably revise this after DrunkMUSH is not quite so drunk.)

Date It Happened: June 10, 2007

Den of Awkward Moments

Den of Iniquity

And the clock strikes midnight. Dressed in patched grey denims and a close-fitting white t-shirt, Jack is moving about the Den, flicking off some of the excess lights and switching off neon signs. Near the jukebox, he pauses to flick a fingertip against Trina's pennant-string of panties, then snickers under his breath and loops back around to the bar. Other than the two of them, the establishment is deserted.

"Admit it," Trina replies with a self-aggrandizing grin, her slender hand stretching out with a rhythmic pulse to wipe down the counter. It's more for something to do with her hands than any actual need to clean, but at least the bar reaps the benefits. It's a quiet night, sure, but that doesn't mean that no one will come in. However, there's gloating to be done. Standing upright for a moment, she sets the rag down and plants both of her hands on the hips clad in tight, black jeans. "That was a fucking *awesome* bit of handiwork."

The Den of Iniquity. It's not a place Niki is familiar with, truth be told; strictly speaking, she's never really been here. She tries to avoid bars - especially dive bars like the Den. Still, there's a familiarity about the place as she opens the door and slowly steps inside. Dressed in a drab grey, ribbed tanktop with a few buttons down the front and a pair of skinny black jeans not unlike Trina's, the thirtysomething blonde wraps her arms around herself in a gesture of comfort for a moment before she heads all the way inside. The footfalls of her high-heels are considerably less decisive and intimidating than they usually are, marking the presence not of the blonde Jack is most familiar with, but of Niki Sanders. She doesn't look comfortable here, that's for certain. Nevertheless, she makes her way toward the bar - the very end. "Hey," she says quietly, looking to Jack.

"A man could pick far worse ways to be immortalized," Jack comments dryly. He pulls a bottle of Ballentine's down from above the bar, then a pair of glasses from below and pours a drink for he and his girlfriend. Niki's arrival is met with no small amount of suspicion at first. The Irishman studies his one-time business partner's other half intently and unabashedly. After several seconds he nods once, apparently having satisfied his concerns, and his expression softens considerably. "Hey. After I talked to you on the phone, I was worried you might not come back to town."

As the drinks are poured, Trina hovers over the glass and prepares to say something… but then the door opens. Quickly throwing the booze against her throat and putting the glass down somewhere in the middle of 'gently' and 'slammed', the dark-haired woman is already back to work.

As Niki makes her entrance, Trina moves to start getting the woman's order. It doesn't immediately dawn on her, the other female's identity. It may be better that way. "Evenin'," she greets after Jack as she grabs a cocktail napkin and tosses it onto the bar just to Niki's left, Southern accent barely noticeable over the standard American she's worked on drilling into her speech. Her blue eyes fix upon those of the blonde, filled with simple inquiry. "Anythin' I can get for you tonight?"

A little while after Niki's entrance, in wanders Randall, on his own as usual. The fringe culture T-shirt is covered by a nondescript navy blue jacket, partly because of the evening chill, and partly because it helps with this month's day job at a magazine stand. Having only visited this place once before, he still peers around with obvious unfamiliarity, and thus misses seeing who's manning the bar as he eventually settles down there. Had he noticed it this early on, he might have decided to find somewhere else to unwind.

"It's home now," Niki admits as she slides onto the very last stool at the end of the bar. A reluctant seat if there ever was one. "Thank you, by the way. For being there on the phone. I didn't know who else to call." And doesn't that speak pages? At Trina's question, the woman hesitates, but ultimately shakes her head - even if it is slow in coming. "No, not… not right now. Thanks, though," she flashes a friendly enough smile. Although she glances to Randall and narrows her eyes very slightly in recognition, it's not enough to warrant a hi.

When the man sits down at the bar, it takes Jack a moment to recognise him, but recognise him he does. Dark hair. Big nose. Plump cheeks. The bartender lifts a finger and points at Randall. "Hey. Haven't I punched you before?" Without waiting for an answer, he grins crookedly and ambles toward Niki's perch. When he sets his glass down and lounges into place opposite her, the grin has already muted to a small, humorless smile. "No problem," he replies to the blonde. "That's what friends are for. You get your laundry sorted out?" He punctuates the query by arching one heavy brow curiously.

Patting the counter, Trina offers a smile in kind. "No problem. Just lemme know if you change your mind." And with that, the young woman makes her way down the counter to Randall atop her heeled black boots. It's a subtle dance between Jack and his employee as they trade places, and it takes a great deal of self-control for her to not make a few lewd gestures as she goes past. Somehow, she manages, but it's not without a giggle as she thinks about what she *could* do. That gets her to her place in front of Randall.

Leaning forward onto it on both elbows, the brunette offers a tilt of her head another electric smile. "Don't mind him." she offers lightly with a jerk of her head towards Jack to indicate the bar's owner. Jack, you could scare off the customer talkin' like that! He is kidding, right? "So how 'bout you, handsome? Lookin' for some poison tonight?"

"It's still on the line," Niki replies with a wry brand of smile. She rests her arm on the bar, leaning lightly into it. She offers a polite smile to Trina - a 'will do', even though she shouldn't - but focuses on the bar owner. "I'm… not exactly an expert in this kinda dirty laundry. It's… I don't know. Complicated."

Randall blinks and turns, squinting. Why, yes, Jack, you have. Given this bit of past history, and what hints he and Trina have been dropping so far, he carefully avoids even the outward appearance of rising to Trina's verbal bait. "Whatever's on tap is good," he murmurs, at the same time offering Niki a vague wave. He's seen some of her, and some of Jessica, but not at all enough of either to start putting anything together yet.

Jack shoots a curious glance over at Trina, then shakes his head and turns back to face Niki. He shrugs his shoulders, then picks up his glass and takes a healthy sip of scotch. "Ahh. Damn, that's not bad. So. Having trouble finding a good cleaning service. Bloody difficult to find reliable help in this city, innit?"

"You got it," Trina replies with a warm smile, moving quickly to pull down a dark lager for the newest arrival. Once the drink is poured, the cocktail napkin tossed onto the bar, and the glass set upon it, Trina leans back onto the bar. "So. You pay as we go or can I set you up with a tab, sugar?"

Given her piecemeal, scant history with Randall, Niki only glances at him once more with a quick, polite smile for his sake. "Mm. Especially when you don't know where to look," she tells Jack. "Honestly? Everything's just…" She glances away to an uninhabited corner of the Den and barely stops herself from shaking her head, sighing. "I'm sorry I called you out of nowhere."

Jack shakes his head again and lowers his voice. "Don't be. I almost ended up in the same mess. Me and you, we're friends. Me and her… ? Uh. Well, I really should've listened to you." He lifts his scotch once more, this time to drain it.

Striding in through the entrance to the Den of Iniquity is the red haired Mara Damaris. "I need a Wallbanger!" she calls as she heads toward the bar, obviously already having a drink or two under her belt. She blinks when she notices there's /two/ people behind the bar today. Holy crap, the Den is busy? No way. This is what she gets for coming in before noon. Sad.

Randall reaches for the mug as Trina drops it off, then sets it down again and fishes for his wallet. "Better stick with the first one," he replies to her, "make sure I don't paint myself into a corner." After setting down some bills with a decent tip, he picks up the mug again and gestures toward Mara with it. "Do they still make those? I thought you can only get 'em from sweatshops in China these days."

"You're better off for not coming," Niki tells Jack - matter-of-factly, but it's a simple truth. "So I guess you listened to me after all." The blonde shrugs and shifts in her seat at the end of the bar, looking down at it. The voice calling out to the bar draws her attention, but not because she recognizes it; it's only afterward that she clues in to the woman's identity and narrows her eyes, becoming vaguely uncomfortable. She noticeably watches Mara.

At Randall's joke, Trina can offer a chuckle and a simple lift of both hands. Mara's entrance has no reason to cause her whatever discomfort Niki seems to e experiencing. "I'm just an amateur when you put me 'gainst the boss. He's the authority." Then she leans in to whisper. "Watch. Bet he don't even blink at it." To Mara, there's a smile. "Boss'll be right with ya'."
Taking the bills offered, Trina makes her way to the register to settle up. "That one's aaall yours, babe," she calls over her shoulder in Jack's direction. It's her subtle hint to tell him she has no clue where to begin on mixing that order. Hopefully, he won't count it against her.

"Issat'cher bird?" Mara asks in a low whisper, leaning her elbows on the bar to converse privately with Jack while he makes her drink. "Sh'pretty." And then, Mara does a double-take. Oh, my God. I know that blonde. "Miss Sanders?" Hazel-green eyes blink several times, as though that would somehow either make the image clearer, or make the woman disappear all together, like a figment of her imagination. "Well, bless my soul…"

While Jack is thus distracted, Randall grins from behind the safety of his beer. Okay, Jack has hangups about certain things too (whatever they are), he can relax now. At least until the guy hits his hair-trigger fists of fury zone again, but that can be watched for. He quiets down and continues to people-watch, not seeing anyone else here that he knows particularly well; Mara he's only seen once, and that in a big crowd.

Niki glances around at the interior of the Den. Why is she here again? She runs a hand through her hair, inasmuch as she can when it's pulled back into a taut ponytail, and looks up at Jack. Slowly, however, her attention rolls over to the red-haired woman. "…Mara, right? This… isn't exactly where I thought I'd see you again."

Safety of the beer? HA. There is no use in trying to hide. Trina settles the change in front of Randall, and then moves to claim the glass of Ballentine's that her beau so beautifully bestowed upon her. Once she has it in hand, she pours the dregs of it into her mouth and then continues on conversing as before. Her right hand stretches out towards the unfamiliar young ma with a grin curling her lips upward at uneven heights. "Name's Trina, by the by."

"That's my Trina," Jack replies. Glance at girlfriend. Glance at Mara. Glance at Niki. Glance at Randall. For once in the Irishman's life, it's safest to look in the direction of a guy he's punched in the past. He lifts his freshly filled glass and mumbles, "It'll be a miracle if I still have my pecker in the morning," just before he takes several immense gulps.

"Yeah, well, it beats the alternative, right?" Nobody wants to run into her in a squad room. Or, heaven forbid, if she were to be in uniform… Mara offers Niki a shrug. "Also makes two of us. Everything all right?" The question is innocent enough, but her eyes narrow just enough to convey the hint of seriousness. Are you okay, Niki? Jack is also spared a glance. Girlfriend + Other Woman = Bad News. So, in this case, Mara will play the role of Frequent Patron, rather than Sometimes Shag. In any case, she's more worried about Niki, or one of her alter egos, than she is Jack or Trina.

Why is she here again? Niki regards Mara unsurely - but they've been through this before, haven't they? She looks down at the bartop before looking at the detective - apparently off-duty - once more. "Yeah," she says with a quiet, humourless laugh. Unlike some of the others, she doesn't have a drink to distract herself with or drown her sorrows in. "It's… fine." She flashes a smile that is, at once, encouraging and non-convincing both.

"Randall, hi," the Occasional Patron automatically rattles off to Trina. His attention wanders over to Niki, but lacking any specific idea of what's up, he falls back on something more general. "Oh, sure, she is. Everyone's all right in here, 's why we come in in the first place, right?" Riiiiiiight.

When Jack sets his glass down again, he seems to have regained his composure. He shakes his head self-deprecatingly, glad to have the conversation directed toward Niki. "So how do you two ladies know each other?"

Randall earns himself an arch look from the detective. "Offer still stands, Niki." With that, Mara lets the subject drop and takes a sip of her drink. "Outdone yourself again, Jack. Would you believe I was at another joint that didn't know how to make these things? I was devestated. Until I decided to walk over here and remedy the situation, of course." At Jack's question, she distracts herself with another pull from her drink. "Mutual friend. Like how you and I met, yeah? I mean, when we met outside the club."

Right. The blonde seems to examine the bar in lieu of anything else. How do Niki and Mara know each other? The former looks to the latter for explanation. After it comes - such as it is - she starts to slide off the barstool. "Yeah. Thank you," she says to Mara, sincere but avoidant at the same time. Funny how that works. Wrong place, wrong time. "I have somewhere to be," she says with a faintly raised brow to both Jack and Mara before just turning on her heel and getting out of there.

As everything is meted and dealt out in turn, Trina is subjugated to playing helpful bar wenc—- wait. There disappears Niki. It's a quick exit, earning her a raise eyebrow from the darker haired womn. There's a strange air between Jack and the bar now, and she can't figure out what it is. That leaves her to sit her and just idly fidget with the components behind the counter. "Nice to meet you, Randall," she finally manages.

Randall leaves off when Mara shoots him that look - must take some time to work on that I'm-just-kidding tone of voice - then turns to peer at Niki as she heads off. "Yeah, you too," he says to Trina, shrugging and turning back. "Hope she's gonna be all right, whatever's up."

It's true, Jack is a little tense. Despite that, he's smiling as he digs his phone out of his pocket, flips it open, and thumbs off a quick text message. When it's tucked back away he pulls a light leather coat from under the bar and shrugs into it. "I'm gonna get outta here," he murmurs to Trina. "See you tomorrow. Good seein' you too, Mara. And Randy."

Mara absolutely slams her Wallbanger, slapping the glass - and some bills - down on the counter before hurrying off after the bartender. "Jack! Wait up!" A quick wave is thrown to Trina and Randall before she hurries on out the door. "Do you have a cigarette?" she can be heard to ask outside.

To Jack's exit, Trina merely gives a small, reassuring smile. She's got this handled. "Sure thing, Jack. Bright and early." Then she turns her attention back to the other two people left with her… Wait. The other woman's racing towards the door. The exodus earns Mara an arch of one of Trina's dark eyebrows, but the woman doesn't say anything. Instead, she turns her attention to Randall and gives him an apologetic shrug as she moves to clean up in the wake of Mara's departure. "Looks like you're stuck with me."

Randall glances around again, scratching his head as he obviously misses yet another thing. Oh well. "Yeah, and vice versa," he replies to Trina. What sort of small talk do you share with a stranger? Well, he's got the rest of the beer to work through, that should buy some time. (Outside the bar, a few other late owls wander by, debating whether to hit this place or another one up the street.)

"Been 'round here before?" With nothing much else to do, Trina simply plants herself at last in front of Randall, finally nursing the last of the scotch portion offer to her by Jack before the arrival of near-strangers or his quick departure. "You'll have ta' forgive me the not knowin'. Ain't been 'round long myself. Still learnin' names. And the list of people Jack's punched." There's a small smile flashed in Randall's direction at that. "Should I ask?"

Randall shakes his head. "Just once, and I didn't know he worked here." He smiles a little as well - though it doesn't reach his eyes - as he recalls the circumstances of the fight. "Not much to it, really. I was out with a girl, I kissed her a little earlier than I normally would've— he didn't appreciate it none too much. I kind of got an adopted-older-brother vibe about the whole thing."

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